18 September 1998
A representative group of Finance Ministers from five of the 54 Commonwealth countries, including G8 members, Britain and Canada, will hold a press conference in briefing room B702 (blue level) at 9.30 am on Saturday 3 October at the IMF Centre, 19th Street, Washington DC. The press conference will take place in advance of meetings of the Interim Committee of the IMF and the Development Committee, a joint committee of the World Bank and IMF.
The Commonwealth ministers will arrive in Washington directly from the annual meeting of Commonwealth Finance Ministers, which is being held in Ottawa, Canada, from 30 September to 1 October under the chairmanship of The Hon Paul Martin, Minister of Finance, Canada. The five finance ministers from developing and developed countries, including Mr Martin and The Right Hon Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Britain, will report at the press conference on the outcome of the Ottawa meeting and proposals they intend to pursue at the IMF/World Bank annual meetings.
Note to Editors:
The Commonwealth consists of 54 member countries from each of the world's regions. It includes among its members two G8 countries, some of the newly industrialising economies of Asia, and Africa, and some of the poorest, most populous and smallest countries of the world.
Commonwealth members are: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Britain, Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, Canada, Cyprus, Dominica, Fiji, The Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Samoa, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
In Ottawa, the Commonwealth Finance Ministers will survey the current world economic situation. In particular they will examine the implications of the East Asian financial crisis and proposals for protecting countries against the destabilising effects of volatile capital flows. In this regard, they are expected to discuss protective measures against abrupt capital movements on developing countries; improved monitoring of private markets, international regulation of short-term capital flows and early agreement on orderly workouts on securitised and commercial debt.
They will also discuss means to help strengthen financial systems and a larger and better co-ordinated role for international financial institutions in the prevention and management of financial crises, taking fuller account of the nature of each crisis. In this context they will invite the institutions to consider the social impact of financial crises. The ministers will consider the need for a more broad-based discussion of the new international financial architecture so as to better manage the process of globalisation.
In addition, the Commonwealth ministers will review the implementation of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative which has been criticised for the slowness of its implementation and the eventual impact on the debt burdens of the 41 countries eligible for relief.
Another substantive issue to be discussed is how the Commonwealth can help to promote good governance and eliminate corruption through enhanced transparency, accountability and the application of the rule of law. Ministers will have before them a report from a Commonwealth Expert Group on the role of good governance and elimination of corruption in economic management. The ministers are expected to adopt a Commonwealth Code of Good Practice designed to help Commonwealth member countries attract and sustain inflows of private capital and launch a Caribbean investment fund for long-term equity investments in private businesses. Among other issues, they are expected to consider national and regional action to combat money laundering.
On the eve of the meeting, a two day Canada-Commonwealth Business Forum will take place, bringing together more than 200 business leaders, ministers and senior finance officials from around the Commonwealth to exchange information and experiences on trade and investment opportunities in Africa, Asia-Pacific, the Caribbean and Canada. They will present an assessment and recommendations to the Finance ministers. The forum, the first in the wings of a Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting, is part of an initiative begun last year to involve the private sector as an active partner in Commonwealth programmes, through the newly established Commonwealth Business Council.
98/63 September 1998